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12 climbers die in Japan during Golden Week holidays

At least 12 climbers died in Japan over a long weekend of public holidays during which mountaineers traditionally flock to difficult peaks, reports said Wednesday.

TOKYO: At least 12 climbers died in Japan over a long weekend of public holidays during which mountaineers traditionally flock to difficult peaks, reports said Wednesday.

Deaths over the four-day holiday, which finished Tuesday, were reported in climbing spots across Japan's Northern Alps, the Yomiuri Shimbun said, including Toyama, Nagano and Gifu prefectures, as well as in other mountainous regions.

Among the dead was a 69-year-old housewife who fell about 50 metres (165 feet) from a ridge on the 1,423-metre Mount Arafune in Gunma prefecture Tuesday, local police said Wednesday.

Separately, two men, a 68-year-old medical worker and a 46-year-old banker, were found dead on Tuesday after their three-strong party were caught in bad weather.

The three made an emergency call on Monday night saying they had lost their way on the 3,190-metre Mount Okuhotakadake in Gifu prefecture.

"The weather was bad and they lost their way.... They tried to bivouac but their shelter was blown off by a strong wind," police officer Hideki Shibata told AFP, adding it appeared the cold might have killed them.

Two men, a 19-year-old National Defense Academy student and his 29-year-old adviser, were found dead after falling up to 400 metres from a ridge on the 3,110-metre Mount Karasawadake, Shibata said.

The Northern Alps are popular for their natural beauty but also known for being reasonably difficult to climb, with many peaks still covered in snow.

Unconfirmed media reports said a 23-year-old soldier was found unconscious after falling while climbing Mount Fuji, Japan's highest peak. Jiji Press and other media said he had subsequently died.

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